Spacecraft detects small jets possibly causing solar wind.

Spacecraft detects small jets possibly causing solar wind.

Solar Orbiter Discovers Tiny Jets in the Sun’s Atmosphere

Solar Orbiter Jets

A breakthrough discovery has been made by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Solar Orbiter. This remarkable spacecraft, often dubbed as the most complex scientific lab ever sent to the sun, has detected tiny jets that could potentially be the long-sought source of the sun’s solar wind. Led by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI), a suite of remote-sensing telescopes, Solar Orbiter observed these material jets emerging from the sun’s outer atmosphere.

Each of these jets lasts between 20 and 100 seconds, expelling charged particles known as plasma at speeds of around 100km per second. Scientists hypothesize that these jets are the primary drivers of the solar wind, an influential phenomenon that shapes the dynamics of the solar system.

The solar wind is created as plasma expands outward from the Sun’s outermost atmosphere, known as the corona. Possessing incredible speeds of over 1 million miles per hour, the solar wind not only produces dazzling displays like the auroras but also impacts our planet in various ways. When it interacts with Earth’s magnetic field, it gives rise to the iconic northern lights and southern lights. However, it can also cause disruptions in GPS and communication systems. Simultaneously, the solar wind acts as a protective shield, safeguarding our planet from harmful cosmic particles.

Despite its immense implications, the exact origins of the solar wind have remained a mystery for scientists. Fortunately, the Solar Orbiter and its EUI instrument have shed new light on this enigmatic phenomenon. Thanks to the unprecedented high-resolution and high-cadence images produced by the EUI, researchers were able to detect these tiny jets that were previously elusive.

Lakshmi Pradeep Chitta, the principal author of the research paper on these extraordinary findings, credited the remarkable capabilities of the EUI instrument. Through its cutting-edge technology, Solar Orbiter captured images that revealed the intricate details of these jets, allowing scientists to gain valuable insight into their behavior and composition.

The Solar Orbiter is not done with its mission yet. It will gradually alter its orbit, inclining towards the polar regions, providing another perspective on the solar winds. Daniel Müller, ESA’s project scientist for the Solar Orbiter, expresses enthusiasm about the upcoming observations. Viewing the jets from a different angle than any other telescopes or observatories will enhance their understanding of the jets’ properties, further supporting their research.

This new development reinforces the importance of space exploration in unraveling the mysteries of our universe. By continuously pushing the boundaries of knowledge, scientists and their pioneering technologies enable us to grasp the inner workings of celestial bodies. As the Solar Orbiter continues its journey, we can eagerly anticipate more remarkable discoveries that will expand our understanding of the sun and its impact on our solar system.